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Will a Mental Illness Diagnosis Affect Your Parenting Plan?


The news headlines show you that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is much less than it was a generation ago.  It is now possible to talk openly with your friends and family about medication side effects and the ups and downs of relationships with therapists.  Having to disclose your mental health diagnosis to a judge in a divorce case can still be scary, especially if you have minor children.  The physical and mental health of each parent is one of many factors that determine how the court allocates parenting time.  Simply having a mental illness diagnosis will not disqualify you from exercising ample parenting time.  If your actions as a result of uncontrolled illness cause you to endanger your children, the court might order supervised parenting time.  After a few months, a court-appointed physician or counselor will evaluate you to see if your condition is stable enough for unsupervised parenting time.  Complete denial of parenting time is a last resort, and it is almost always temporary.  If your ex-spouse is using your mental illness to keep your children away from you, contact a South Florida child custody lawyer.

Is the Children’s Bad Relationship with Dad Due to Dad’s Mental Illness or Mom’s Negative Influence?

Throughout most of Larry and Susan’s 22-year marriage, Susan was self-employed as a music teacher.  Larry suffered from anxiety and depression and was later diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder; his illness severely limited his ability to work.  He left the workforce early in the marriage and later did bookkeeping for Susan’s music school, before becoming entirely unable to work.  When the parties divorced, both of their children were minors.  The court awarded 100 percent of the parenting time to Susan; Larry did not even get supervised parenting time.  In fact, the court did not even allow him to contact the children by phone or email.  The court appointed Dr. Sabo to be in charge of the family’s therapeutic reunification plan, which involved evaluating all the family members periodically and proposing a plan for the next stages of the parent-child relationship.  In other words, Larry would only be allowed to contact his children when Dr. Sabo decided that he was ready.

Larry appealed the judgment, arguing that the court gave too much power to Dr. Sabo to determine the future of the parent-child relationship.  When re-examining the case, the appeals court found that Larry’s alienation from his children was due not only to his mental illness but also because of the things that Susan said about him to the children.  The appeals court reversed the decision and remanded the case to the trial court to determine what sort of contact or parenting time would be appropriate.

Contact Us Today for Professional Help

A Boca Raton family attorney can help you maintain a stable relationship with your children even if your ex-spouse is trying to use your mental health diagnosis as a weapon.  Contact Schwartz | White for assistance today.



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